Oh God, yes.
Also, spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want the mystery ruined, go watch the episode first.
I absolutely adore these simple mysteries. There’s no need to invent a villain with an overly complicated, unsustainable plan for world domination when the little curiosities will do.
Watching Houtarou’s overly stylized thought processes fill me with disproportionate glee.
Sure, I’ve always liked overly stylized thought processes. It’s just that they’re often a SHAFT thing, and SHAFT usually does it for the sake of being, well, SHAFTy. The difference here is that KyoAni did it to provide a visual image to kickstart/accompany the viewer’s own train of logic.
I.e. SHAFT uses visual style to confound/tease/annoy, KyoAni uses visual style to guide/direct.
Not that all SHAFT anime is screwy, mind you; but it’s nice to have funky art effects to decrease confusion, instead of increasing it, for a change.
My minor gripe is Houtarou giving a summary of the given information. It makes it seem as if the viewers are too slow-witted to keep track of Houtarou’s already blatant observations. But if it weren’t for the summary, I wouldn’t have gotten that last vital clue.
This is my major gripe: that my mental processes were stonewalled because I wasn’t aware that Japanese schools have shared art classes. It’s something that the average Japanese viewer would know, not a filthy barbarian gaijin.
But I still love it. It’s the sort of thing I’d throw into a mystery: a little relevant factoid that is public information and just requires some thought to integrate it into the solution.
The solution is elegant, obvious, and would have been easily found, even if Houtarou’s initial guess was off.
This is where I fanboy over Houtarou for a bit.
In his position, I’d bet that a great deal of people would have stood/sat there, trying to come up with the exact solution to the mystery before heading off to confirm their hypotheses. It’s what all the great fictional detectives do – sit, think, and dazzle everyone with their precise prediction.
While Houtarou started off towards the arts room even though he still hadn’t come to a conclusion. But this is the clever part – he’d already narrowed down the location to one specific room. He didn’t need to guess what the girls had done with the book – all he needed to do was go to the place where they’d been, and the solution would present itself.
For the record, my hypothesis was built on the book’s size and sturdiness. I thought the girls were using the book as a canvas because the texture of the cover might have provided an interesting art effect.
What troubled me early on in the episode was that Houtarou was perfectly fine with coming up with a false explanation to keep Eru happy.
Oh, it’s something I’d do too, and it’s something I’ve done many, many times to keep people off my back. But from the perspective of a viewer, I really do want to know the actual circumstances behind the mystery.
Eru intrigues me, though. I’m pretty sure she wants Houtarou to teach her the art of deductive reasoning or lateral thinking or something along those lines. And I approve of that. It’s just that she’s done well for herself through memory, rote-learning and hard work. Most people wouldn’t want to change anything if their results were consistently highly ranked.
I would like to see Houtarou coming up with more ways to trick Eru, don’t get me wrong.
But even if Satoshi had to trap him into doing so, and even though Houtarou could have simply refused Eru point-blank, he didn’t take the easy way out, and we all got our happy resolution to this week’s mystery.
5 out of 5 pleasantly surprised Jim Moriarty’s
“I see. You’re not ordinary… …Thank you. Bless you.”